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Research shows that dogs can tell if someone is being mean to their owner!

31 July 2015

Have you ever been snubbed by someone and been given the impression that your dog has given them the cold shoulder?

Japanese researchers at Kyoto University, led by Kazuo Fujita, a professor of comparative cognition, tested three groups of dogs using role play in which they witnessed their owner requiring help to open a box.

The owner was accompanied by two people who were complete strangers, one person was purely neutral and did nothing. The second person either offered assistance or completely refused. At the end of the exercise both people offered the dog a treat.

Dogs that had seen their owner refused help were far more likely to take food from the neutral person than from the person who had not helped them. In the other group the dogs showed no real preference.

 

Dogs that had seen their owner refused help were far more likely to take food from the neutral person than from the person who had not helped them. In the other group the dogs showed no real preference.

 

It is thought that if the dogs had been acting in self interest there would be no difference in the groups. This reveals that dogs have the ability to co-operate socially similar to humans and primates, a characteristic found in a relatively small number of species. The trait is present in children from the age of about 3, the research papers said.